Venture Financing



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Vadim Kotelnikov

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Venture Financing

The nature of the ‘new’ economy has profound implications for the way the new business is financed. High-tech start-ups go through multiple funding rounds. Equity financing conventionally follows a trajectory from friends & family, business angels, through venture capital (VC), to an initial public offering (IPO).

Venture capital cannot finance innovation on its own. Too many VC funds remain unwilling to invest in high-tech start-ups in the early stage, often because they lack the investment appraisal capacity to act as ‘first investor’. To be fully effective, venture capital  must form part of an unbroken investment chain. Dynamic innovation demands an unbroken financing chain, from seed capital to stock market.
Development of networks of business angels as sources of pre-revenue seed funding and management guidance is essential and will encourage VC funds to make more early-stage investments.  Business angels are wealthy individual investors - usually, people who have made their own money as entrepreneurs. Better equipped than banks and most capital funds to assess the potential of very young business, they contribute not only equity but also much needed business expertise, offering company founders hands-on support and advise. Angels bridge the gap between the personal savings of entrepreneurs and their families and friends - often an important source of seed capital - and the ‘second round’ financing which venture capitalists are able to offer. In US they have helped to fuel the  remarkable self-sustaining innovation and economic growth of the past decade by recycling entrepreneurial wealth and talent locally and regionally. In Europe, Business Angel Networks (BANs), generally funded by public money, have proved to be remarkably effective - raising awareness among potential investors, providing and independent and confidential matching service, and training entrepreneurs to prepare and present the information that angels will require. BANs stimulate the flow of informal risk capital to start-ups with high growth potential.
To ensure seamless integration of financing through the life cycle of a company, good relations between the business angel and VC communities are essential. Stock markets for high growth companies also stimulates venture capital activity by offering an ‘exit route’ of flotation. They offer a means for venture capital funds to realize a return on their investment in new companies.